Friday February 12, 2010

Interview: For Controversial Ohio Teen, Pro-Life Activism a Life-Long Passion

By Kathleen Gilbert

DAYTON, Ohio, February 12, 2010 ( – For Elizabeth Trisler, the pro-life Ohio teen who made national news this week after she was denied the chance to receive a legislative honor by the pro-abortion Ohio House Speaker, getting up on a platform to defend life has been on the agenda for quite some time.

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve been doing this stuff,” says Trisler, who was set to receive the honor in recognition of her win in the National Right to Life oratory contest last year.

In an interview with (LSN) Friday, the teen said she was involved in the pro-life cause “before I was born”: Trisler’s mother had discovered that she was pregnant with Elizabeth – the first of five children – during the Rally for Life ’90, shortly after she was convicted on charges related to her pro-life activism. “My Nana [told her], you know, ‘That’s your reward for standing up for what was right,'” said Trisler.

But the young woman says the real turning point for her came when her mother sat her down at a very young age to explain what abortion was. She says she had just been shooed out of the room after the topic came up on a Focus on the Family program.

“When I was really little, my mom told me about abortion … that abortion was when they kill babies before they’re born. And I said, ‘That is wrong! I’m gonna stop that,'” said Trisler. “And you can picture: a little kid, they can stop anything!

“I made a list of people to call, you know – I figured if people knew, then how would they possibly let babies be killed?” she continued.

“I made a list of phone numbers, I made this little trumpet thing, because I was going to announce it to the world.”

Trisler, 19, has gone on since that day to win two competitions in the National Right to Life Jane B. Thompson Oratory Contest – one at the local level in 2008, and then the national contest in 2009.

“Abortion means pain – anguish – death,” begins Trisler’s national award-winning speech. “This one word holds 50 million silent screams.

“But since 1973, it’s become just a normal word in America, describing a ‘quick, harmless procedure’ to fix a ‘little mistake.’ What does abortion really mean?”

Trisler’s speech goes on to enumerate the physical and emotional damage wreaked by abortion. She quotes at length one heartbreaking account of the oft-overlooked devastation felt by fathers who can only watch as their children are scheduled to be killed in the womb.

A father’s letter to his unborn child, as hosted by, reads: “For my beautiful princess Leah: today is the day before your innocent life is taken. I’m so sorry for letting you down, princess. I tried my hardest to save your life, that was so precious to me and your grandmother. My life won’t be right without you. You are on your way to be with the Lord…I love you darling and I always will, you live in me. Love, Daddy.”

“I just came across that, and I started crying,” said the teen.

(Read Elizabeth’s full speech here)

After she won last year’s competition, Trisler was contacted and congratulated by many pro-life leaders, including Rep. John Adams, who said he would seek a resolution from the Ohio Assembly honoring her achievement. But, she said he admitted he would have to “make absolutely sure” that she would not give her speech on the floor while receiving the resolution, “just so there’s no questioning about” using the opportunity as a political platform.

After the resolution was inexplicably delayed for several months – “That got really frustrating,” Trisler recalled – House Speaker Armond Budish cancelled the reception outright. Budish cited fear that the topic was too controversial for the traditionally apolitical honor; following a media uproar, however, Budish reconsidered, and the honor has been scheduled for this Wednesday.

When asked how she felt about the reversal, the Christian teen replied, “I feel that what they meant to kind of silence this topic has just brought it more to light, and God has turned it all for His glory.”

While admitting that she may be more outspoken than her more shy sisters, she said they were “just as passionate” as she, and in particular praised the help of her sister Sarah as “one of the biggest instruments that God used with this speech.”

See related coverage:

Ohio Speaker Reverses Decision, Will Allow Honor for Pro-Life Teen

Pro-Life Teen Barred from Receiving Honor by Ohio House Speaker


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